From the publishers of THE HINDU

Dravid, the pick of the lot

Sir, - It had been six years since an Indian Test team toured England and the recently concluded series provided ample entertainment to compensate for the long gap. The slow pitches allowed the bat to dominate over the ball. I will always remember this series as Rahul Dravid's series. His batting was simply superb and of high calibre. I had the fortune to see him make a double century at The Oval and if it was not for a needless run out I'm sure he would have scored much more than 217.

After starting the Test series in a dismal way, Sourav Ganguly's men came back strongly to level it. That was a sign of great team spirit. Rarely has an Indian team displayed such tenacity and aggression abroad. I hope such an attitude will continue in the future. The only disappointment was India's bowling. The seam bowling resources seemed particularly slim in the absence of spearhead Javagal Srinath.

Tendulkar may not have scored as many runs as the whole of India may have hoped for, but one has to understand that he is human too, although a gifted one. With a busy schedule ahead and the World Cup not far off, Indian fans will be following their cricket with great interest in the days and weeks to come.

AJITH IGNATIUS, SURREY, U. K. You hit the bull's eye

Sir, - Your Perspective (Sept. 21st issue) hit the bull's eye by its conclusion that the recent cricket imbroglio "is basically a problem relating to distribution of wealth" and the heading "ICC could have avoided this drama" is apt. As a person avidly following the game for more than five decades, I, for one, believe that some working arrangement for participation of India's best team was neither improbable nor impossible. The second string team was never assembled together, not to speak of any practice session.

After Kerry Packer's invasion in the 1970s, the bottom line is that monetary issues will have to be addressed first. As you have rightly said, the ICC "was urgently alive to the need to get the Indian megastars to play" as they are the biggest money spinners in the game. The ICC cannot bind the players by signing a contract with the BCCI. All the more, the Indian players' personal endorsements/contracts were chronically much earlier. Without India and its sponsorship support, world cricket stands to lose a lot. This was very well known by the ICC and the BCCI. So this reconciliation, particularly when the cricket administrators never wanted the repetition of "nothing official about it" of 1996. Contrary to people's perception, Dalmiya has enacted a coup on the ICC for the second time.

R. C. DEY, CHENNAI Don't undervalue Andre Agassi

Sir, - This is with reference to Nirmal Shekar's Cover Story "God of Big Things" (The Sportstar, September 21, 2002). Without doubt Pete Sampras is one of the greatest players of all time. Recently, he won the US Open title against all odds and that too against his greatest competitor Andre Agassi. Hats off to him for his 14th Grand Slam title. But, to say Sampras at 80 per cent can beat Agassi at 100 per cent means undervaluing another great player of all time.

Sampras ruled men's tennis from 1993-99 and the only player to defeat him in a Grand Slam final during that duration was none other than the great Andre Agassi in the 1995 Australian Open final. Wasn't Sampras 100 per cent fit during that match, that too on a fast court. Let's be practical, the only difference between this two greats are their attitudes. Sampras dedicated his life to tennis, whereas Agassi played tennis for fun. If Agassi had dedicated his life to tennis as Sampras did, his Grand Slam record too would have been awesome.

Yes, Sampras leads Agassi 4-1 in Grand Slam finals and has won 14 Grand Slams titles, but one jewel is still eluding him and that is the French Open, whether he will win it or not only time will tell. But as for Andre Agassi, he has won every coveted crown including Olympics. Nothing more is left for him to prove. So, let's not praise one great by undervaluing the other great. God has not made a single person in the world 100 per cent perfect. Let's respect both of them for what they have achieved.

ABHAY KUMAR SINGH, HAZARIBAGH, JHARKHAND Outstanding interview

Sir, - Hearty congratulations to Serena Williams for winning the US Open title. Thanks to The Sportstar for the outstanding interview. It simply made the September 21 issue a special one.

I also liked the way Serena candidly spoke about her career. Her third major title in a row indeed proves her deep commitment and talent. Here's wishing the Williams sisters loads of luck in the years to come. I also thank The Sportstar for the excellent coverage of the U.S. Open.

ABHIJEET D. MORE, NASHIK Too glaring

Sir, - In the ICC Trophy, the performance of teams like Holland, Bangladesh and Kenya was much below international standards. The stronger teams crushed them and they looked pathetic and apologetic. Nowadays there are various rating systems available. In order to make the game more interesting and also to let the new entrants play with some enthusiasm, these teams could have been allowed to play 50 overs and opponents, based on their ratings, could have been restricted to, say 30 or 35 overs.

V. S. GOPALARATHINAM, CHENNAI